[EM] More comments on Lord Jenkin's proposals

New Democracy donald at mich.com
Fri Sep 25 03:13:21 PDT 1998

Dear David Marsay,

     One thing that is missing is news of a possible artificial threshold.

     This proposal will give representation to more small parties and their
voters, but the size of any artificial threshold will limit that

     I hope no threshold is imposed.

     In any event this proposal will still be an improvement.

Donald Davison

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  ----------Repeat Letter ----------
From: David Marsay
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 12:23:45
Subject: Re: UK - Lord Jenkin's Proposals

     Any comment on this? (Mine below)  I claim.
1) Voters never have an incentive to vote other than for their true
preferences, since preferences count only when the higher choices have been
     This is a clearly desirable, and a nice change from FPP or many other
methods (e.g., approval).

2) A candidate with > 50% of 1st place votes wins. So the method is
'majoritarian' in this sense.
     Like FPP and vote-ranking methods. Approval is not like this. (If a
'left' candidate has 51% support 2% of the supporters might rank a 'centre'
candidate 2nd, leading to a 'wrong' win for the centre candidate.)

3) A centre candidate will win unless it has the least support or some
other candidate has an absolute majority (as above).
    This violates the Smith criterion. But maybe that is a small price to
pay. In extremis, a centre candidate with 2 supporters could win using the
Smith criterion.  Do we really want to elect the candidate who has least
local support? Also note that methods that appear to
respect the Smith criterion do not encourage honest voting, so may not
'really' meet the criterion.

4) The method will tend to produce a parliament with more centre support.
Moreover, the balance of seats for each party will be less dependent on
boundaries. Must be good?

5) Even in a seat where a candidate is a 'sure-thing', voters may help
elect a regional representative, thus encouraging voting. Good!

6) It still gives local representation - if that is important.

7) The method seems easy to understand and not a great change,and hence may
be acceptable.

8) The system might produce parties that are very similar, arguably a
problem. However, geographic spread of views (at least in the UK) should
mean that non-centre views continue to be adequately represented.

     Have I missed something? Given that there is no 'ideal' solution,
isn't this as good as it gets? Some might argue that it is likely to
encourage coalition government, but wouldn't any alternative to FPP?


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